Team Petronas Syntium’s partnership of Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanagida and Dominic Ang proved fruitful when it emerged victorious in the latest edition of the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER). The win will surely go into the books of history as it was their third win of the 12-hour endurance race after the 2009 and 2011 edition.
The team also bagged their second 1-2 finish (the first in 2009) after its second car – piloted by Fariqe Haruman, Melvin Moh and Tetsuya Kataoka secured second place overall and in the GT class. Meanwhile, Darryl o’ Young, Keita Sawa and Siu Yuk Loong of LKM Racing took third place.
In the Sports Production class, Fahrizal Hassan, Adrial d’Silva and Daniel Bilksi of Nexus Racing bettered their last year’s overall record of 277 laps by finishing the race in the sixth position with 283 laps thus reclaiming the title in the class.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s very own trio of Boy Weng Yew Chong , Soh Kee Koon and Lai Weng Sing upset last year’s winners – ST Powered Racing Team from Singapore; who had to retire after 213 laps to claim their impressive record of second win in three years in the Touring Production class. Second place went to Australian-based James Hunter, Gavin Bullas and Grant Johnson who clocked 267 laps and third place went to Akira Akida, Takeshi Tsuchiya and Morio Nitta in their unprecedented Toyota 86.
Flagged off by Malaysian Moto3 rider, Muhammad Zulfahmi Khairuddin and accompanied by SIC Chairman Datuk Mokhzani Tun Mahathir, this year’s event saw a competitive entry of 30 cars – six in the GT class, five in the Sports Production and 19 in the Touring Production class which at the end saw a total of five cars failed to survive the formidable challenge of MMER.
2012 MALAYSIA MERDEKA ENDURANCE RACE – AFTER SIX HOURS
Team Petronas Syntium Scores Hattrick at MMER
Team Petronas Syntium – winner of the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER) in 2009 and 2011 – recorded history when it sealed a hattrick of wins after its partnership of Nobuteru Tanaguchi, Masataka Yanagida and Dominic Ang won the 13th edition of the 12-hour endurance at Sepang Circuit in their Mercedes SLS machine.
The event turned out to be a sensational one for the Malaysian-based team with its second car featuring Fariqe Haruman, Melvin Moh and Tetsuya Kataoka took second place overall and the GT class; giving the team a second 1-2 finish; duplicating their awesome win in 2009.
LKM Racing of Hong Kong – featuring World Touring Car Championship driver Darryl o’ Young, Japan’s Keita Sawa and Siu Yuk Lung took third place; surviving a tyre puncture at Turn 1 on the seventh hour.
Completing the 12-hour contest with 319 laps, the partnership of Taguchi, Yanagida and Ang took over the lead for the second time after pole sitter, Clearwater Racing Team was forced to make an unscheduled pitstop due to steering problems on Lap 234 on the 10th hour.
Featuring the partnership of ex F1 driver Gianmaria Bruni, Ireland’s sportcar driver Matt Griffin and Asia GT3 champion Mok Weng Sun in a Ferrari 458 machine, the team started from pole position; leading from the start and lost briefly its lead on the 92nd lap to the Petronas car before taking back the lead a few laps later.
Like Team Petronas Syntium, Nexus Racing featuring the partnership of Fahriza;l Hassan, Adrian d’Silva and Daniel Bilksi retained their Sports Production title; finishing the race sixth overall with 283 laps; improving last year’s total of 277 laps.
The Touring Production class saw Malaysia’s awesome trio of Boy Wong Yew Chong, Soh Kee Koon and Lai Weng Sing having their revenge as they upstaged last year’s winners – ST Powered Racing Team of Singapore to take their second class title in three years.
The 2011 winning partnership Teh Kian Boon, Desmond Soh and Derrick Ang failed to finish the race after the Honda FDR was forced to retire after 213 laps. In the absence, the Australian partnership of James Hunter, Gavin Bullas and Grant Johnson took second place with 267 laps with the Japanese trio of Akira Aida, Takeshi Tsuchiya, Morio Nitta scoring a sensational third place in an untested Toyota 86, which was making its debut at the MMER.\
After leading most of the race, Team Clearwater lost their lead to the two Petronas cars after spending more than half an hour in pits to repair their steering problem on Lap 234 on the ninth hour. It returned to the track in third place but was forced to return; with the problem clearly unresolved.
After more than 15 minutes, the Ferrari 458 returned to action; but again returned back to the pits and eventually retired with 239 laps; with the race now comfortably led by the 2011 winning partnership.
While Mok and Co was having their problems with the steering, the second Petronas car had their own problem with the braking system; putting the Mercedes SLS stationery in the pits for more than 10 minutes and allowing their sister car to widen the gap at the front.
Flagged off by Malaysian Moto3 rider, Muhammad Zulfahmi Khairuddin at 12.04pm and accompanied by SIC chairman Datuk Mokhzani Tun Mahathir, the race started with 30 cars – six in the GT class, 5 in the Sports Production class and 19 in the Touring Production Class.
At the end of the 12-hour contest, five failed to survive the challenge including a leading contender for the Touring Production class, JC Racing. Featuring season campaigners Keifli Othman, Firhat Mokhzani and A. Kesavamoorthy and second fastest in qualifying for the class – the team went out of contention after just 17 minutes 36.822 seconds after their Honda DC5 engine blew on the fifth lap.
*2012 MALAYSIA MERDEKA ENDURANCE RACE *
*Podium winners *
Nobuteru Taniguchi/ Masataka Yanagida/ Dominic Ang (Team Petronas Syntium) 157 laps
1.Nobuteru Taniguchi/ Masataka Yanagida/ Dominic Ang(Mercedes SLS) 319 laps
2. Fariqe Hairuman/ Melvin Moh/ Tatsuya Kataoka (Mercedes SLS) 317 laps
3. Darryl o’ Young/Keita Sawa/Siu Yuk Lung (Porsche 911 GT3) 310 laps
1.Mohd Fahrizal Hassan/ Adrian D’Silva/ Daniel Bilski (Aston Martin) 283 laps
2. Zen Low/ Patrick Ng Bee Soon/ Marcus Chye (Lotus Evora) 268 laps
3. Mohamed Nazir/ Mohamed Ridzuan/ Khairul Anwar (Nissan Fairlady) 264 laps
*TOURING PRODUCTION *
1.Wong Yew Choong/ Soh Kee Koon/ Lai Wee Sing (Honda Civic FD2 Mugen) 270 laps
2. James Hunter/Gavin Bullas/Grant Johnson (Subaru) 267 laps
3. Akira Aida/Takeshi Tsuchiya/Morio Nitta (Toyota 86) 264 laps